Monday, January 26, 2009

Our School Update

Being that we are almost through the month of January I am reviewing changes that we have made which have worked and those which have not. I admit that I am still vacillating between Charlotte Mason’s recommendation of short lessons for concentrated attention and diving into topics for longer periods to satisfy our curiosity on topics of special interest to us. It may not be consistent, but we are doing both according to subject and I've decided this is not such a bad practice in consideration of the girl's ages now.

First of all the State History cd rom course proved to be too much on top of The Story of the World for my oldest daughter. I have to say that even I am hooked on Story of the World by Bauer and am compelled to complete the series which will bring us through volume 4 by the end of next year. We’re going with a more hands on approach, Lord willing, this spring of getting out and touring Trenton and various sites, reading some NJ history and scrap booking it. For math, Teaching Textbooks wins hands down. Out of the five various curriculum we have used to teach math here through the years, this gets my vote. Saxon is out of my life for good and it’s freeing, as while popular it just was not a good fit for my daughters as it used to be for my son. My oldest is completely independent with this teaching program and the perk is that it corrects errors visually for the student. My youngest is loving a turn at the computer on her programs, but honestly we have not reached the level of independence I had hoped for, but at least there is improvement. We have worked out a written list of independent work to be complete quietly if I have the distraction of company, a phone call or a necessary appointment. Little measures can go a long way to problem solve to keep the day moving. This is helping me keep our concentrated learning time on schedule so that I have some time to myself each afternoon.

We are accepting help of our math tutor more frequently and the girls and also have begun sewing lessons by machine for the first time. So, I am delegating and welcoming more help than ever and intend on continuing that each year as possibilities arise. I have always encouraged the bulk of academics in the mornings and long afternoons for art, reading, hobbies and outdoors whenever possible. This is some times hard due to the ferocious competition of tv and electronics, but I'm trying to limit that, which makes for some unhappy looks at times. Evenings are for reading once again both a loud and independently as well as music practice time. My youngest is loving the harp and making great progress with her lessons, but my older daughter feels certain at this point that she wants to move on from the piano to guitar still but I’ve not yet located the right arrangement for our needs.

We began home schooling for purely academic and health reasons but through the years have stuck with it for the freedom and along with that we gradually have added small lessons of faith and character usually without formal planning. I tend not to use religious curriculum any more especially in the areas of science and history as I want a well rounded approach and questions and discussions naturally arrive. In fact the entire day is ripe for incidental learning. I have always preferred to encourage prayer, Bible reading and the reading of additional spiritual books through own example rather than telling the children what to do. Also through the years, I’ve provided verses and quotes for the kids to use weekly if they so choose to. It’s funny how when one does not push or make requirements, a child willingly places forth the effort on their own terms when they are ready and watching that unfold is lovely. Both daughters typically pull one card from the basket each week and utilize it for penmanship, placing it alongside various quotes and poems in their practice books which they seem to cherish and personalize. It’s good to watch them grow spiritually at their own pace and they seem to "get it" more all the time.


Heather said...

It sounds like you're striking the balances just right. It's a big deal to home-school three children successfully - well done :)

Jan Lyn said...

Well,nice of you to say Heather, but due to health I feel I am still missing the mark compared to what we used to accomplish, or perhaps not the content but how we go about our learning. At least we are still at it. By the way, sent son off to public school 3 years ago, so can't claim I'm teaching him anymore! Kind of you to stop by.